C O L U M N S

Featured Demo

Avenue F - Demo (2004)

By: Eric Compton
Published: Wednesday, May 12, 2004
Avenue F demo

1. Suffer Unto Me
2. Thin Ice
3. I Don't Need You

Band
Jack Kemple: Vocals
Mike Marino: Guitar
Vinnie Valdes: Bass
Mike Betkowski: Drums

Band Website

If Anthrax is blasting their new tunes from the cadillac rock box, then this New Jersey band is standing on the corner of Avenue F, playing you their brand of street smart rock and roll. Avenue F have released their new demo, an untitled three track EP of great modern rock, not really serving up anything heavy duty, but keeping the music on a magic carpet ride of rock riffs sure to entertain hard music folks this day and age.

These young buckaroos formed Avenue F in 2002, naming the band after the street they practice on. The band's founding member and sole guitarist Mike Marino had been in a few bands around New Jersey before settling down with this young act. Backing Marino is vocalist Jack Kemple, bassist Vinnie Valdes, and drummer Mike Betkowski, who all combine to make up a fresh new rock band that people can finally get excited about. What do they have going for them? Actually several key ingredients, the most important being a solid rock attitude, a winning gameface that just wants to rock for rock's sake and in rock they do trust, showing off the ability to combine classic elements with today's soundtrack.

With opener "Suffer Unto Me", the band really mix it up, going out of the blocks with a heavy opening riff to get things started before settling down to a Tool/Perfect Circle vibe, but unlike Tool's turtle pace, Avenue F can speed it up, keeping memorable hooks at the forefront, and writing a decent chorus that is easy to snag and keep up with. This is fun stuff and beats the hell out of the angry vibes most of today's
bands focus on. Rock is supposed to be fun people, and Avenue F keeps that philosophy throughout these three tracks.

"Thin Ice" is a slower number, recalling the late 90s rock movement, maybe closer to Creed and Pear Jam, but more interesting than those acts. Ending number "I Don't Need You" is more straight up classic rock, bordering on everything from Jimi Hendrix to Cream. Marino proves he is a tremendous talent on the strings, strumming along where necessary but taking advantage of every opportunity to rip out a soaring lead. That type of thing really elevates this EP and keeps everything flowing nicely. I just wish there were more songs to hear. Kemple really has his own style behind the mic, not really sounding like anyone. He isn't necessarily a "safe singer", but his voice is strong and clean, which suits this band perfectly.

This is the band's newest material and before this release the group recorded a low-budget full length record simply called "Avenue F". That group of songs was more deeply etched in classic rock, while this new EP shows a modern side to the band. These guys are playing shows now, and are going to be hitting the studio again to record a full length album. Hopefully some of these tracks will see a bigger budget and get some airplay somewhere.

For those of you who are tired of the retro bands like Jet and White Stripes, check out Avenue F. On the other side of the tracks, if you are a mean metal head looking for a change of pace, hitch a ride down a different avenue and give these three songs a spin. It might be a much needed change in direction.




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